Lucknow Super Giants 176 for 7 (de Kock 50, Hooda 41, Russell 2-22) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 101 (Russell 45, Avesh 3-19, Holder 3-31) by 75 runs
Lucknow Super Giants went to the top of the table, with three matches to go, with a comprehensive win against Kolkata Knight Riders, who now stood all but knocked out.
Knowing the slow Pune pitch would be ill-suited to shot-making in the middle overs, LSG went hard against the new ball despite the dismissal of captain KL Rahul without a ball faced. The expected slowdown ensued as balls bowled into the pitch proved to be difficult to score off, but a 30-run 19th over by Shivam Mavi sent them on their way to a par-plus total.
Super Giants’ pace attack then bounced Knight Riders’ top order out, reducing them to 25 for 4 before Andre Russell created excitement with his 19-ball 45 but he, too, fell to a short ball. The end came swift as Knight Riders were bowled out for 101 with 5.3 overs to spare. Two wicket-maidens and just three scores in double-figures told the story of the defence.
In the first over, Quinton de Kock ran his captain Rahul out even before he had a chance to face a ball. This mishap happened in the process of looking for a quick single, a nicety de Kock didn’t bother for in the rest of his innings. He was brutal against every ball pitched short or short of a length, and the bowlers tended to overcompensate when they went up, allowing him drive balls. He scored 44 off 23 in a 66-run powerplay, their second-biggest powerplay this season.
Narine came into the match with just the seven wickets but an economy rate of under a run-a-ball. The pattern has been clear: sides are playing him out and targeting the other KKR bowlers. de Kock, though, aims higher when he gets going. He tried to hit Narine too, but the ball gripped to take the intended extra-cover loft to long-off.
Now the bowlers started to use the middle of the pitch more with the slower balls gripping too. Krunal Pandya got stuck for a 27-ball innings that couldn’t reach a run-a-ball. Narine found support in Russell, who got Hooda and Pandya both with the short ball. Between them, Narine, Russell and Tim Southee bowled 11 overs for 70 runs and four wickets.
Marcus Stoinis chose to play the first half of the death overs with caution. Overs 16, 17 and 18, bowled by Narine, Mavi and Russell, went for just one boundary, that too off an edge. At 142 for 4, it looked like Super Giants might end up underachieving.
The 19th over, though, changed all that. Bowling to a short leg-side boundary, Mavi, who had conceded just 20 in three overs till then, had a horror over. Stoinis hit the first three balls for sixes, two in the slot and one a short ball, over the leg side. The fourth ball was in the slot too, but Stoinis just couldn’t get the elevation and found deep midwicket.
The arrival of a new batter didn’t change things: Mavi bowled two more slot balls, which Jason Holder hit over square leg and long-off. Southee pulled things back a little in the final over, but Super Giants knew they had plenty on the board.
Mohsin Khan, arguably the most impressive of a bunch of impressive young Indian quicks going around, started the defence off perfectly. He bowled at high pace, got length balls to seam away, bowled a full inswinger, and then provided the finishing touch with a sharp and accurate bouncer last ball to get B Indrajith out. When Knight Riders got their first run off the ninth ball of the innings, they had achieved the longest wait for a first run this IPL.
Russell keeps KKR interested… only for a while
With Russell coming to bat in the seventh over, KKR were either going to win comfortably or not bat out their allocation. There is no in-between. Russell did hit five sixes and three fours in just 19 balls, but eventually an Avesh short ball flew to third man, who was placed fine just for this.
Narine, too, managed to score 22 off 12, but the lower order collapsed. Holder was on a hat-trick with the last pair at the wicket. Harshit Rana avoided the hat-trick but ran himself out taking a third.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo